Meet Patrick O'Connor
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This week we shine the spotlight on Patrick O'Connor, our very own @rationalwebguy.
Patrick IS our Rational web guy, focused on all things electronic support. If you didn't see him at #ibminnovate, I don't know why, because he was EVERYWHERE... talking with clients, presenting our electronic support offerings and demoing the IBM Support Portal. He was in the Rational Support Café and the Red Carpet Lounge; in the Solution Expo and at VoiCE. He is always happy to share his knowledge, and is available to speak with you or your teams about electronic support at any time.
And don't forget to check out our past
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support?
My name is Patrick W. O'Connor. I am IBM Rational Client Support's Electronic Support Project Manager. My role is to make the IBM Rational Support web spaces as helpful and clear as possible - to make them first choice for many of the issues and questions our clients have. This is accomplished through driving requests for enhancements through the ibm.com process and also through our many adoption efforts - letting the Rational support clients know when we make updates and improvements to our various web spaces.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational?
I joined Rational Software in July of 2000.
Have you had any other roles in Rational?
Yes, I joined Rational as a Senior Web Content Developer, then to my current position in 2006.
What are you currently working on?
The new IBM Support Portal, various IBM Electronic Support marketing & education projects plus building processes to measure the effectiveness of IBM's Electronic Support efforts.
Describe a normal work day for you.
Wow. That's not easy. My days are so varied. Typically, I'm checking email at 630AM or attending a conference call with our European support team. My mornings are usually focused on web space maintenance, project management activities focused on electronic support client adoption or client calls & meetings. Most of my afternoons are filled with various project conference calls. In the evening, I'm back on email and finishing up some of the day's tasks or even on a conference call with our Asia Pacific support offices.
What project are you the most proud of?
Right now, the IBM Support Portal. IBM.com has been working on this since late 2007 and it has involved input from every IBM support team and hundreds of IBM support clients. It allows all support site users to customize the site to show content and answers only for the products that user is interested in. Additionally, the portal allows users to move content "portlets" around or even delete areas that they don't find vital to their support needs.
Do you have an "on the job" hero? If you could "follow" anyone for 24 hours, who would it be?
In Rational and IBM Software Group, I know so many "on the job" heros, it would fill a whole separate interview. I believe it would be very interesting and enlightening to work with Sam Palmisano, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, IBM Corporation, for a day. At that level, the decisions and risks dealt with on a daily basis must be amazing.
Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use?
I have my IBM Laptop, Apple iPod, Garmin GPS, Sony Digital camera.
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without?
2 gadgets are vital - my Sony digital camera and my iPod. The camera because I'm always taking pictures & video of my family & friends. My Apple iPod is also vital - didn't think it was important until my daughter used it as a TV in her dollhouse! For 3 weeks, I was forced to listen to talk-radio in my Jeep until I found it!
What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately?
I've been at the IBM Innovate 2010 conference all week - so I've heard and seen so much great tech news. It would have to be Dean Kaman's work with water purification and power generation in developing countries. The technology to make clean water and power in remote locations is a very exciting project.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support?
This is going to sound like a marketing answer, but it's helping a people around the world every day - either clients or IBMers. This past week at Innovate - I've met so many people and being able to answer their questions and seeing the relief in their eyes when they finally get the answer they have been looking for for so long was very satisfying! And I'll keep the "helping" going by taking their questions and feedback back to the IBM teams and keep driving improvements in our tools and processes so that the next time they have similar questions, they'll be able to find the answer themselves in a much easier and faster way.
What tip or trick would you like to share with the class?
In the new IBM Support Portal - there's a button in the upper right labeled "Sign in to add, move, or delete modules on your custom page." Please sign into the portal - even if you see your name in the banner directly above that button I just mentioned. Signing into the portal saves all your customization to your IBM ID account - so no matter where you access the portal: office laptop, home computer, different browser - your settings are remembered. Otherwise, the portal remembers your settings in a cookie, which may be erased and doesn't help you if you change systems, browsers,etc.
Tell me about the biggest problem ahead for you?
Clarifying IBM's Support processes. IBM is a big company and we have many processes that are simple and many that are complex. Breaking down each of these into managable pieces and figuring out a way to explain all the steps clearly to a client on our website has been a big challenge for me. I'm working on several projects to simplify our processes and their delivery on our website - I'm going to be busy for a while!
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you?
What's "spare time"? OK - when I'm able to, I love to ski, mountain bike, kayak and scuba dive with my family and friends.
When did you first become interested in kayaking?
I was living on Cape Cod in the 90's and wanted to explore all the rivers and saltwater marshes all around the area. A kayak was the logical tool, so I purchased a used, 2-person kayak and started kayaking every Sunday afternoon - picking a different marsh or inlet every weekend. I ended up kayaking with friends year-round on the Cape for several years. I've owned several kayaks since - even have a "sit-on-top" kayak now that I use for surfing in the ocean!
If you were stuck on a technology deprived island, what single technology could you not live without?
Could I answer "Satellite phone" so I could call for a rescue? If I was stuck on a "technology deprived island", I'd choose the technology of "fire" - a flint of some sort. Stuck on such an island, I'd actually be relieved - there is so much "technology noise" in our lives today - smart phones, cell phones, laptops, info feeds, email, etc. - that I would really enjoy a break from all that constant information bombardment.
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading?
National Geographic and Family Handyman magazines. NatGeo for dreaming & planning about all the amazing people and places I have yet to meet and see. Family Handyman is there to remind me that before I climb Everest, I have to first organize the garage and finish the basement.
Any new technologies that you think are about to break into the big time?
Affordable robotics for home use - yes, there are automated vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers, but they are limited in their functionality and still relatively expensive. But with all the money being spent on military robots, I believe systems that will help us with routine tasks will be arriving very soon that are much more capable at a cheaper price.
What future technology would make your life easier?
See my "robots" answer above - I'm dreaming of an affordable robot that could mow my lawn, vacuum my house and especially pick up after my children!
What are you doing to make the planet smarter?
My family and I beginning to automate our home - installing systems that control electricity and water usage. And then monitoring our bills to see where we are wasting resources.
How do you grow your technical skills?
I try to pick projects that push me to learn new skills, then use online resources and the help of fellow IBMers to flesh those needed skill out.
How do you prefer to find answers to your questions?
Online of course - using Google or another major search engine to begin my quest for the answer to my issue. If that fails, I'm lucky enough to have many very smart friends and colleagues that usually have the answer or know where to find it.
How are you using social networking today?
I use Twitter (@rationalwebguy) and LinkedIn for professional relationships, Facebook for mostly keeping up with friends & family, even though I'm now starting to post more to the Rational Support facebook page, and finally, I use Flickr for posting pictures and videos - mostly for friends & family.
How could you see yourself using it in 5 years?
I'm hoping that social networking technology will become simpler and more integrated. There are still too many places to post and recieve info. A site or service that could tie all my social sites together - filtering out the noise - letting me choose whether a post is for business or for friends & family and into which social site(s) that post would go would be outstanding!
What are some of your favorite webs
Ed. note: And just for fun, a couple of shots of Pat from #ibminnovate: